Cary Audio Design SLI 50 Integrated Amplifiers

5/5 (2 Reviews)


Product Description



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Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Chris a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: April 21, 2003

Bottom Line:   
This integrated is a real gem and somewhat of a secrete in the Audiophile world. There haven’t been any reviews by the publications so it goes relatively unnoticed in the used market. This is where you will have to find one because a newer and more powerful unit the SLI-80 has replaced it. Build is excellent. The entire amplifier oozes quality. From the chrome plated top to the thick aluminum machined face you know that you are looking at a slice of the high end. The version that I own has some upgrades that I highly recommend: oil-caps, TIFF binding posts, remote and NOS tubes from Upscale Audio. I won’t tell you what tubes are going to be “best”. That’s something that only your ears and system will know. Once you have an idea of what you would like to tweak about your sound give Kevin a call for the tube recommendations. It is amazing what rolling only the front-end tubes and staying away from the more costly EL-34’s can do. A matched quad of Mullard’s will run you $500 where a new front-end using the rarest or rare will only set you back ½ that. I took the plunge and got the Mullard EL-34’s and found very little difference from the Svetlana’s.

Associated Gear: Cary 300/200 CD player/Processor
Silverline SR15
Acoustic Zen Hologram II Speaker Cables
Acoustic Zen Matrix Reference Interconnects
LINN LP12
Herron Audio Phone Stage

The Sound:
Rich and smooth. You will need to feed this amp a quality source signal. Unlike lower priced tube amps the sli-50 doesn’t cover up anything. If the recording is bad, it will sound bad. This is also a quality of the Silverline SR15’s (separate review). The Soundstage is amazing. The Cary posses the ability to project a soundstage that is very layered and detailed with good air between musicians. The quality of the midrange is beyond words. This quality is something that I haven’t been able to get from most solid-state equipment (Levinson being the exception and even then nothing beats tube gear here). Kelly Joe Phelps is an amazing blues guitarist and singer. If you enjoy acoustic blues you owe it to yourself to check out Kelly Joe. The Cary brings out every note of both his voice and slide guitar with grace and detail. Every nuance is captured. The down side… What you don’t get with the amp, in my system anyway, is a large amount of base slam. At 30 wtpc. It just isn’t in the cards. This is not to say that the bass is rolled off or mushy. It is well defined and taught. For the Blues, Jazz and classical that I listen to it’s not a problem. Throw in the occasional Pink Floyd and Widespread Panic and your well within the SLI-50’s comfort range. The top end is detailed yet smooth. Symbols are delicate and hang in the air. Just as they should. Again, as with the base, the top end doesn’t hit you over the head. You won’t become fatigued listing to the Cary.

Conclusion:
For the meager sum of around $1250 (meager in terms of the ridicules Audiophile world) you can purchase a true piece of the high end. Be warned that you may have to do what I did. This was purchased for a smaller second system for my office. After pairing the SLI-50 with other quality components from my “main system” it became painfully obvious that the rest of the toys needed to be upgraded to do the Cary justice. Several transactions on Audiogon.com later I have a second system that does 85% of my main set-up for under 5K. All anchored with the Cary SLI-50.

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1999

Price Paid:    $1250.00

Purchased At:   Audiogon



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by David a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: April 26, 2002

Bottom Line:   
Bought this little integrated for bedroom as I have many pairs of speakers. I was not ready for the sound, it was more than what I bargain for. Very musical, very transparent, and throws a big soundstage. 30wpc will not get you very far when it comes to bass control or slam, but they do a decent job. Build quality is top notch as well, point-to-point wiring and high grade parts. ET34 is the weakest of 6550/KT88 family when it comes to power, but you win in terms of details and smoothness. I have tried it with Ei KT-90, slightly more power at the expense of refinement. You can have the unit upgraded by Cary to run in either triode (stock) or pentode mode (just like SLI-80) for a mere $150. Now that's a bargain.

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1998




Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)

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